How Long Does Probate Take?

As usual, the answer is “it depends” on the situation. But, in general, if an Arizona routine probate is required, and there is nothing “unusual” in the situation, you can expect the process to take a minimum of five months and up to two years.  Most of the routine probates are finished and closed within 6 months.  But, in the informal process (meaning a routine probate), a qualified person can be named as the Personal Representative of the Estate immediately upon filing the proper documents with Superior Court and approval by the Probate Registrar.  Once appointed Personal Representative (PR), the PR can start administering the estate by paying debts, placing property for sale, gathering assets, gaining access to the deceased’s bank accounts, etc.  In theory, the PR can immediately start distributing assets to the rightful beneficiaries.  But, caution should be used.  In an Arizona probate process, creditors will have up to 4 months after the first publication of notice to creditors to file a claim against the estate.  A PR should be very comfortable there are no outstanding debts before distributing assets to heirs. 

For more information, please email sheila@arizonalegalease.com or call the office at (602) 523-0100.

Visit our websites:   www.arizonaprobateservices.com and www.arizonalegalease.com

Arizona Legal EASE and Arizona Probate Services are certified legal document preparers.  We are not attorneys. This post’s purpose is to provide general information about Arizona legal issues and process. However, legal information is not the same as legal advice, which is the application of the law to a specific situation. The information provided here is not intended or meant to provide a comprehensive picture of any particular situation.

The importance of a Will – especially with blended families!

A Last Will and Testament makes your wishes known.  If someone dies without a Will there is an Arizona statute that outlines the specific order of who inherits the deceased person’s property.  When someone dies without a Will, that person’s wishes are unknown, so the statute must be applied and distribution of the assets are done according to law. 

There is a little known fact and a potentially huge problem for blended families! If a spouse dies without a Will, and he or she had children from a prior relationship, the surviving spouse could lose ½ of the marital property and possibly more! For example, Sam and Diane lived in Arizona and were married for 10 years but never found the time to do Wills.  They both assumed the surviving spouse would get everything anyway. Sam has an adult son from a prior relationship.  Without a Will, the son will have inheritance rights to a large part of Sam’s assets (including his share of the marital/community property) – which could leave the surviving wife in a horrible situation. Arizona’s intestate (without a Will) statutes can be viewed starting at: http://www.azleg.state.az.us/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/14/02102.htm&Title=14&DocType=ARS  PAY PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO 14-2102 REGARDING THE SURVIVING SPOUSE AND CHILDREN OF THE DECEASED NOT OF THE MARRIAGE!

Having a Will or a Trust is VERY IMPORTANT – no one plans to die today!  Get it done and you will give a huge sigh of relief! For more information, please email sheila@arizonalegalease.com or call the office at (602) 523-0100.

Arizona Legal EASE and Arizona Probate Services are certified legal document preparers.  This post’s purpose is to provide general information about Arizona legal issues and process. However, legal information is not the same as legal advice, which is the application of the law to a specific situation. The information provided here is not intended or meant to provide a comprehensive picture of any particular situation.

Do it Yourself Formal Probate in Arizona

A Formal Probate proceeding is generally required when a will or estate has contested issues, or there is a reason the probate does not readily fit within the Informal Probate process. In simple terms, a probate judge (in some cases, a Commissioner) ultimately rules on such situations and supervises the administration of the estate.  Every now and then, contested issues arise during an Informal Probate and the matter has to be switched to Formal Probate.  Generally speaking, an Informal Probate will cost substantially less than a Formal Probate.  That’s because Formal Probate does not have any set forms or templates, whereas Informal Probate is a very specific process.

Most people are not aware that you do not have to hire an attorney to file Formal Probate documents in Arizona.  Of course, whether or not to hire an attorney is your decision based on your circumstances.  There are, however, certified legal document preparers that are experienced in preparing the documents for Formal Probate.  You would represent yourself and speak for yourself at the hearing.  Like all court actions, there is a process and requirement for every type action filed.  An experienced probate legal document preparer will understand the process and know the required documents.

To our knowledge, there is no such thing as a “Formal Probate Do it Yourself Kit”.  Superior Court’s self help center does not provide any information on Formal Probate documents and process.  Generally, most people don’t know where to turn so it is natural they proceed with hiring legal counsel.

Formal Probate document preparation and related services range around $800 to $1200, depending on the scope and challenges involved.  The court filing fee and outside fees (such as publication) are additional costs.  Currently, Maricopa County Superior Court’s filing fee is $251.00.  Publication in Maricopa County will run around $37 per publication (typically two times).  The fees vary by Arizona County.

Most attorneys will start at $3,500 or more to get started.  There may be some attorneys that charge less.  If you are going to retain legal counsel it is a good idea to interview several lawyers and find one that you are comfortable with and have confidence in.

For more information visit www.arizonaprobateservices.com or www.arizonalegalease.com.  You may also contact info@arizonalegalease.com or call the office: (602) 523-0100.

Arizona Legal EASE, Inc. and Arizona Probate Services are Arizona certified legal document preparers.  We provide general information about Arizona legal issues and process. However, legal information is not the same as legal advice, which is the application of the law to a specific situation. The information provided here is not intended or meant to provide legal advice or a comprehensive picture of any particular situation.

Sheila R. Webster, AZCLDP #81172

Arizona Legal EASE, Inc.

Real People – Real Experience – Real Trust

Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparer #80340

Telephone:  (602) 523-0100 or (623) 434-0100

Fax:  (602) 801-2316

Website:  www.arizonalegalease.com

NOTICE TO CONSUMER. Pursuant to Legal Document Preparer Code of Conduct, you are hereby informed of the following: That a legal document preparer is not a lawyer, is not employed by a lawyer, and cannot give legal advice, and that communications with a legal document preparer are not privileged (subject to subpoena).

What is Probate?

What is probate?

Probate is a court administration process that occurs when someone has died.  If there is a Will, the Will must be valid in accordance with State law.  If there is no valid Will, statute determines the heirs and distribution of the property.  Each state has “intestate” (i.e. without a Will) statutes and order of priority to the estate. See links at the end of this blog posting.

Probate does not have to be challenging or overwhelming.  For the most part, it is gathering the decedent’s property (assets) and determining the value; paying the deceased person’s debts; paying applicable taxes; and, distributing the property in accordance with the Will.  The Court has specific documents and deadlines it requires and it is important to meet the court’s requirements

Probate, at a minimum, involves paperwork and, in some cases court appearances are required.  Legal, court and related fees are paid from estate property, which would otherwise go to the people who inherit the deceased person’s property.

The probate process does not require that you hire a lawyer.  That is a decision that you have to make depending on your situation.  An experienced Arizona certified legal document preparer can professionally prepare the required documents and even deliver them to the court for filing.  You have the potential to save significant dollars by “doing it yourself” through a professional legal document preparer.  For example, Arizona Legal EASE charges $800.00 (plus outside court/publication fees) for most informal probate document preparation services.  Formal Probate documents may cost more, simply due to the unique nature of every situation. 

Links re Arizona Intestate (without a Will) Succession: http://www.azleg.state.az.us/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/14/02102.htm&Title=14&DocType=ARS

http://www.azleg.state.az.us/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/14/02103.htm&Title=14&DocType=ARS

Link re “Do It Yourself” probate document preparation services:

http://www.arizonalegalease.com/Services.aspx?service=5f02ad41-4a26-40c6-b30f-08187b1a7d0f&id=0

http://www.arizonaprobateservices.com/

For more information, please email sheila@arizonalegalease.com, visit the website at www.arizonalegalease.com, or call the Arizona Legal Ease office at (602) 523-0100.

Links re Arizona Intestate (without a Will) Succession: http://www.azleg.state.az.us/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/14/02102.htm&Title=14&DocType=ARS

http://www.azleg.state.az.us/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/14/02103.htm&Title=14&DocType=ARS

Link re “Do It Yourself” probate document preparation services:

http://www.arizonalegalease.com/Services.aspx?service=5f02ad41-4a26-40c6-b30f-08187b1a7d0f&id=0

http://www.arizonaprobateservices.com/

Arizona Legal EASE, Inc. is an Arizona certified legal document preparer.  We provide general information about Arizona legal issues and process. However, legal information is not the same as legal advice, which is the application of the law to a specific situation. The information provided here is not intended or meant to provide legal advice or a comprehensive picture of any particular situation.

NOTICE TO CONSUMER. Pursuant to Legal Document Preparer Code of Conduct, you are hereby informed of the following: That a legal document preparer is not a lawyer, is not employed by a lawyer, and cannot give legal advice, and that communications with a legal document preparer are not privileged (subject to subpoena).

What is a Living Will?

What is a Living Will? A Living Will is also known as  a Health Care Directive or Advanced Directive.  It is a legal document that makes known a person’s wishes on life prolonging medical treatments.  For example, if you are in a permanent vegetative state, do you want life-prolonging measures taken, or no life-prolonging measures?  A Living Will is very important as it informs your family and medical providers what your specific desire is if you are unable to speak for yourself. It can help avoid family fighting and more emotional stress in an already difficult situation.

Generally, a Living Will indicates which treatments you do or do not want applied to you in the event you either suffer from a terminal illness or are in a permanent vegetative state. A living will does not become effective unless you are incapacitated; until then you’ll be able to say what treatments you do or don’t want. Don’t worry, a family member cannot simply “pull the plug” whenever they want to.  Certifications by physicians are required.  A Living Will is only used when there is no hope for your recovery.

A Living Will should not be confused with a Living Trust, which holds and distributes a person’s assets to avoid probate.

For more information, please email sheila@arizonalegalease.com, visit the website at www.arizonalegalease.com, or call the Arizona Legal Ease office at (602) 523-0100.

Arizona Legal EASE, Inc. is an Arizona certified legal document preparer.  We provide general information about Arizona legal issues and process. However, legal information is not the same as legal advice, which is the application of the law to a specific situation. The information provided here is not intended or meant to provide a comprehensive picture of any particular situation.

How long does it take to get a divorce in Arizona?

How long does it take to get a divorce in Arizona?

A divorce cannot be granted by the court in Arizona until at least 60 days after the first court papers are delivered (by legal service/process) to the other spouse. If the spouses agree about the divorce issues (such as how to divide property and debts), the divorce can be finalized soon after the 60-day waiting period is over. If the spouses are not in agreement, the time it takes will depend on how complicated the issues are and on the court’s schedule. 

For more information, please email sheila@arizonalegalease.com, visit the website at www.arizonalegalease.com, or call the Arizona Legal Ease office at (602) 523-0100.

Arizona Legal EASE, Inc. is an Arizona certified legal document preparer.  We provide general information about Arizona legal issues and process . However, legal information is not the same as legal advice, which is the application of the law to a specific situation. The information provided here is not intended or meant to provide a comprehensive picture of any particular situation.

WHAT IS A “QUICK CLAIM” DEED?

WHAT IS A “QUICK CLAIM” DEED?  “Quit Claim” deeds are often erroneously called “Quick” Claim Deeds.  It’s easy to understand how people get confused about the name as a Quit Claim deed simply transfers property from current owner (Grantor) to new owner (Grantee). We most often see requests for Quit Claim Deeds as part of a divorce wherein one spouse is transferring their interest in a residence or other real property to the ex-spouse.

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT that any deed be professionally and properly prepared.  There are important  issues and options related to deeds such as type (Warranty vs. Quit Claim, etc.), legal descriptions, appropriate names and signatures, and much more.  It is not expensive to have deeds professionally prepared by an Arizona certified legal document preparer.  For example, we professionally prepare most deeds for only $85, plus the cost of the recording fee.  I’ve been told that most title companies won’t prepare a deed unless it is part of a real estate closing.  Attorneys also prepare deeds but I suspect the cost is considerably more than $85.

For more information email sheila@arizonalegalease.com or call (602) 523-0100.

Sheila R. Webster, AZCLDP #81172

Arizona Legal EASE, Inc.

Real People – Real Experience – Real Trust

Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparer #80340

Telephone:  (602) 523-0100 or (623) 434-0100

Fax:  (602) 801-2316

Website:  www.arizonalegalease.com

NOTICE TO CONSUMER. Pursuant to Legal Document Preparer Code of Conduct, you are hereby informed of the following: That a legal document preparer is not a lawyer, is not employed by a lawyer, and cannot give legal advice, and that communications with a legal document preparer are not privileged (subject to subpoena).

Should Judges Be Fashion Police?

Judges across the USA are cracking down on people who come to court wearing skimpy and sloppy clothing. They claim the effort will maintain decorum and beef up security.Judges in Delaware’s Kent County are so fed up with people coming to court dressed in inappropriate attire that they instituted a dress code, adopted after one woman showed up for court in her pajamas. Banned are saggy pants, exposed undergarments, bare feet, curlers,gang clothes, muscle shirts, tank tops, halters, bare midriffs, and hemlines more than 4 inches above the knee.

“Courts are a place where serious business is conducted, and that demands appropriate attire”, says Delaware Superior Court Judge William Witham Jr. "We’re not out to treat people as school kids, but we do expect if you come tocourt, you need to treat it with the appropriate respect and dignity it should deserve due to the occasion."

Other instances include:

·         Judges in Texas have banned excessive body piercings and tattoos, unless they are covered.

·         A man in Hamilton County, Ohio, received a warning from a Municipal Court Judge of potential jail time if he showed up again in inappropriate attire. He wore a T-shirt to court featuring the Chucky horror movie character and the words, “Say goodbye to the killer.”

·         In May, Jennifer LaPenta was jailed briefly after a judge in Lake County, Ill., held her in contempt for wearing an offensive T-shirt to court.

·         In Michigan, a man was turned away in April from the courtroom for wearing black jeans. He missed his traffic court appearance and was fined, and he’s challenging the dress code in the state Court of Appeals.

Timothy Fautsko, who advises courts on security issues for the National Center for State Courts, says the dress codes serve a purpose. "I think it maintains order in the courtroom," he says. But some people seem determined to push the fashion envelope. "I had a report of one court that had an individual keep coming into court dressed like a clown," he says. "Again, that pushes the dignity of the court."

Though some attire may seem obvious choices to ban, other clothing can be a tougher call — and barring some attire can raise troubling questions about race, religion and access to justice, legal experts say.

Fautsko says an increasing numbers of courts are adopting dress codes, and for security reasons some specify that faces be uncovered, posing problems for Muslim women wearing veils or burqas. That issue has come to the fore among judges and security personnel in the past six months, he says, adding that courts are "seeking some definitive direction on what to do, and what to do in a uniform manner, so it’s not different from court to court."  Information from:Debra Cassens Weiss, Staff Writer, ABA Journal and J.L. Miller, The (Wilmington, Del.) NewsJournal and the Maricopa County Bar Association Newsletter – October 2010.

sheila@arizonalegalease.com  or visit www.arizonalegalease.com  Also, follow us on FACEBOOK Business Page:   Arizona Legal EASE or click here:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Phoenix-AZ/Arizona-Legal-EASE/119113858145186?v=wall

Beneficiary Deeds – Simple Way To Avoid Arizona Probate

Beneficiary Deeds – Simple Way To Avoid Arizona Probate

Beneficiary Deeds are a well-kept secret in Arizona.  It is amazing that more people don’t know about them.  Arizona Statutes (http://www.azleg.state.az.us/ars/33/00405.htm) allows an owner of property to name a beneficiary of their property so that the property can be immediately transferred to the beneficiary upon the death of the owner(s).  If there is a valid Beneficiary Deed recorded with the appropriate Arizona County Recorder, the property does not have to go through Arizona Probate.  Once the owner passes away, all the beneficiary has to do is file a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate with the County Recorder where the Beneficiary Deed was recorded.

The Benefits of a Beneficiary Deed are: 

  1. Avoids Probate fees and lengthy process.
  2. The property owner keeps control and ownership of the property. The deed does not transfer to the other person until the owner dies. 
  3. There are no property taxes or other liabilities  to the Beneficiary until he/she actually owns the property.
  4. An owner can revoke or change a beneficiary deed at any time.

Beneficiary Deeds are inexpensive, especially if you use a Certified Legal Document Preparer to professionally prepare it.  For example, Arizona Legal Ease (ALE) charges $95 to prepare and record the Beneficiary Deed with the Maricopa County Recorder.  If you want to save even more money, ALE will charge only $50 to professionally prepare the Deed, then you record it yourself!  All we need is a copy of the current Warranty Deed or Quit Claim Deed (so that the exact legal description and names are accurate).  Or, if you don’t readily have that available, we simply need the Maricopa County Tax Assessor’s Parcel ID number (readily found on your tax statement). Pretty simple and definitely a bargain.

For more information email sheila@arizonalegalease.com or call (623) 434-0100.

Certified Legal Document Preparers Make Good Cents

Certified Legal Document Preparers Make Good Cents

If you need legal documents, consider  using an Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparer (AZCLDP). A certified legal document preparer can save you considerable money.  So, what is a certified legal document preparer and what can they do?

Very few people know the Arizona Supreme Court implemented a program to allow individuals and businesses to prepare legal documents without the supervision of an attorney. Certified Legal Document Preparers are often referred to as “independent paralegals”.  In fact, our state association is the Arizona Association of Independent Paralegals

Certified Legal Document Preparers cannot give legal advice, but we can provide general legal and factual information pertaining to legal rights, procedures, or options available to a person in a legal matter when that person is not represented by an attorney.

Examples of documents prepared by AZCLDPs include (but are not limited to): Wills, Trusts, Probate, LLC and Corporation business documents, Divorce, Legal Separation or Annulment, Paternity, Child Support related, Deeds, Guardianship, Termination of Parental Rights, Adoption, Bankruptcy

A good document preparer will not hesitate to recommend you seek legal counsel if you need legal advice.  A qualified preparer with experience, professionalism and integrity is worth his/her weight in gold. 

For more information, go to www.arizonalegalease.com or email sheila@arizonalegalease.com